life on pine


minca, colombia

Kate ParrishComment

minca, colombia

not long ago minca was a pretty dangerous place because of a strong guerrilla presence, but throughout the past years this region has developed into an ideal destination to relax and enjoy fantastic views & sunsets, the friendliness of the locals, natural beauty, numerous waterfalls, a sunny climate (infamous for growing marijuana) and plenty of outdoor adventure to be had. minca is a small village in the middle of the sierra nevada mountains at 600m altitude, but what makes it unique is that you can be at the ocean in under 1 hour by car. it is known for having the highest elevation mountain range this close to the sea and the result is the beautiful flora and fauna that define this part of colombia.

oscar's place

no frills ecological hostel with breathtaking views of the santa marta mountains and access to all of the adventure around minca. we loved waking up here and enjoying our coffee on the deck as we gazed into the endless beauty of the lush green mountains. 

bear paw high sierra camp | sequoia national park

Kate ParrishComment

getting the reservation

bear paw high sierra camp has been on our list for years, but it’s one of those places where you have to book january 1st @ 8am and the dates fill up for the entire year (many people blocking slots then canceling later too). we’d secured a reservation back in 2016 and ended up having to give it up - but finally made it this past year! due to some local wildfires :( it was pretty smokey, but of course still beautiful as ever and a great way to celebrate the recent news we had just found out [baby!]

the trek [August, 2018]

we booked two nights at the camp, and a night on both ends in the park [it’s a long drive and you won’t want to end the long hike and have to get in the car for 8 hours]. here’s a little glance at our rough itinerary:

  • day 1: depart SF, drive to sequoia national park and sleep at wuksachi lodge [this place is definitely over priced, but it’s the only hotel in the park so unless your camping, it is the only option].

  • day 2: wake up early, eat a big breakfast, and get your parking permits. easy to pick up at ranger station with proof of registration for bear paw. time to start the trek! 11.5 miles to camp with deceiving gradual gain in elevation that will take it’s toll on you so be prepared – pack light, bring snacks and tons of h20. you will want to get started fairly early so you have time to shower when you arrive and settle in for the cozy and delicious meals the staff prepares.

  • day 3: full day deep in the back country. we did a hike to a remote lake where we swam in the chilly water, had lunch [tri-tip sandwiches prepared by bearpaw!], and kp attempted some fly fishing. to beat the storm, we headed back and spent the afternoon relaxing at camp playing cards and drinking wine before dinner.

  • day 4: slow morning with breakfast, relaxing and coffee before making the trek home. it was hot, and i was exhausted due to the extra human in my belly. kyle eventually carried my backpack a portion of the way home after i was terrified from our rattle snake sighting [photo below]. that night we slept in fresno to break up the drive

  • day 5: drive home to sf! [about 5-6 hours]


^^ you can barely see it, but this photo captures the long body of the rattle snake we saw! right between the two rocks.

routeburn track: fiordland national park

Kate ParrishComment

hiking in fiordland national park

when you start researching a trip to new zealand, you almost immediately get lost trying to decide which of the “nine great walks“ you can do. new zealand’s unique beauty and intent to preserve it while letting you closely experience it – keeps this country atop most outdoor enthusiasts’ list. after a good amount of research (getting lost) we decided on prioritizing routeburn track. milford is even more famous and looks awesome, but we couldn’t line up the dates – worth noting that in peak season (dec – march) planning ahead is imperative. we had this hike booked 7 months before we did it.

at 21 miles with 2,800 feet elevation gain, typically done over 3 days/2 nights, routeburn is very approachable if you are in backpacking shape and offers a good variety of terrain & trail environments. we trekked through lush forest, came across snow melt streams & waterfalls, ending our last night swimming in a pristine, refreshing lake.

the huts themselves are clean, equipped and make you feel very comfortable after a long day on your feet. bagged wine in new zealand is somewhat of delicacy and a highly recommend evening treat. weather is pretty fickle here but we were lucky enough to get 3 sunny days and crisp beautiful nights. another hiking must have was backpacker’s pantry – surprisingly delicious dinners and all you need is boiling water!

remember to hydrate and cover your skin!

one of our biggest learnings after trekking in new zealand was to cover up and hydrate! the UV sun strength in the southern hemisphere [and NZ specifically] is much stronger than we’re used to, and we both ended up with sun poisoning [which has the same symptoms as food poisoning]. it was for lack of a better word horrible and we met a lot of other hikers who experienced if after long days in the sun. it’s no joke!! be careful.


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new zealand! the tongariro alpine crossing

Kate ParrishComment

hello, nz! 

our 3-ish weeks in new zealand started on the north island where we flew into auckland and tried to pack in as much as we could before heading south. we started with the popular hike – the tongariro alpine crossing – and ended up going on one of the windiest days that year [120mph!]. i truly felt like i might blow off the side of the mountain and thus not many photos were taken that day. 

the trail runs through an active volcanic region in the midst of tongariro national park,  a 7-8 hour hike through dramatic volcanic scenery, offering epic vistas all the way to mt taranaki on a clear day.

some quick tips/things to know:

  • you will likely sleep in the town of taupo, nz on the nights before/after the hike 
  • it will take most of the day - the tongariro alpine crossing is ~12 miles long, on average the trek takes between six and eight hours to complete, so definitely pack a lunch + snacks + plenty of water
  • park your car at the end, and book a s huttle to the trailhead [then when you're done, your car is waiting for you :)] 
  • check out this site for all the info you need to know 

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hiking the valle de cocora: salento, colombia

Kate ParrishComment

this place is like nothing i've ever seen

for a quick adventure after relaxing at hacienda bambusa, we found ourselves on a bus to salento, a tiny town that is part of the los nevados national park. it is the principal location of the national tree,  the quindío wax palm –– and when we saw photos of the palm forest i knew it was not to be missed. the town itself is pretty tiny and filled with small hostels/restaurants to support the heavy tourism that rolls through for adventure like the valle de cocora hike. we stayed at the coffee tree boutique hostel and had our own little private room that was pretty perfect for us. it was walking distance to the town square and had a cozy communal feel to it. 

interested in doing this hike? here are a few things to know:

  1. catch a shared jeep (or a "willy" as they call them) to the valle de cocora from the main square in salento.
  2. the cost is 4,000 COP ($1.50 USD) / person. the jeeps leave six times per day: 6:10am, 7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am, 2:00pm and 4:00pm. they then return to salento an hour later.
  3. bring a lunch! the hike takes most of the day 
  4. we stopped and ate our sandwiches at the acaime hummingbird sanctuary where they also serve coffee/hot chocolate * stopping here adds about an hour to the hike, but it's fun to see if you have time
  5. bring a rain jacket –– the weather changes quickly when you get to higher elevations 
  6. do the counterclockwise loop, it is a great work out and ends at the palm forest which is the perfect reward. your hostel/hotel can give you more details on the different ways to do the trail (or you can check out this blog –– they have a lot of great information about the trail)

S C E N E S  F R O M  S A L E N T O 


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